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Choose Chat Channels Wisely to Optimize Potential Returns

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Effective cross-generational communication with customers requires an excellent omnichannel strategy and chat is fast becoming the cornerstone for brands around the globe. But for many Nigerian organizations, chat channels still carry a degree of security hesitancy from consumers that will need to be overcome if they hope to reap the full rewards of chat commerce.

In a global multi-industry survey of 405 companies, Aberdeen Research in partnership with Clickatell, found that at least two-thirds of firms use chat and that those that use chat in commerce achieve superior financial results while delivering a better customer experience. This included a 75% improvement in annual revenue growth and a 48% bump in customer retention rates.

The chat opportunity for Nigerian organizations is also significant. WhatsApp is the most popular social media platform in Nigeria, with 93% of internet users aged 16 to 64 years using it. These numbers prove that chat is one of the most effective ways for businesses to reach the local population – a fact that has already been acted on by some forward thinking local banks which have embraced Chat Commerce, including ​​United Bank for Africa (UBA), Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank), First Bank of Nigeria (FBN), Fidelity Bank and Sterling Bank.

While there is a very clear business reason to use the more popular chat channels to communicate with customers, business leaders must also be aware that users may harbour some mistrust when it comes to sharing personal data over digital channels. A significant 64% of consumers recently surveyed for Clickatell’s Chat Commerce Trends Report said they’re “not sure” about security and confidentiality of chat apps.

“We are very comfortable exchanging information with our friends and family over chat, but for many customers, dealing with a bank or mobile network in this way is still a new concept. Businesses may need to spend some time educating customers around the safety of these channels,” explains Samson Isa, Director West Africa at Clickatell. “We need to repeat the message that buying a product, topping up on airtime, or buying electricity over WhatsApp is just as safe as shopping via a regular ecommerce store, or buying airtime or electricity tokens via your banking app or even at your neighbourhood’s store,” he says.

Not all channels are created equal

Isa says it is also important for businesses to choose the channels they use with care as each has its unique strengths and weaknesses.

So while Facebook Messenger has extraordinary reach, rich media capabilities and deep collaboration with its social cousin Facebook, it currently lacks end-to-end data encryption. 

However, WhatsApp’s high level of security with end-to-end encryption makes it the preferred channel when it comes to sharing sensitive information.

“When it comes to WhatsApp, only the customer and the merchant can see what is in the communication. Customers are literally holding the encryption key in their hand. Now, technically encryption can be broken, but it’s incredibly expensive and just not worth it. It’s easier to hack your customers’ email to get their details, than it is to hack their WhatsApp messages,” Isa explains.

Isa says that financial services provide the perfect use case as to how to choose the correct channel based on the purpose of the communication.

In its Chat Commerce Trends Report, Clickatell identified the top three banking services consumers wanted via chat were customer support, account balances and bill payment.

The report notes that depending on security levels and other features, different channels are better for certain uses.

WhatsApp, Google Business Messages, and Apple Business Chat are best suited to customer care, account management and banking “lobby” experiences, such as scheduling appointments.

Facebook Messenger, meanwhile, was better suited to immersive user engagement and conversations, like answering customer questions that don’t require sensitive personal information.

SMS remained the most relevant for time critical notifications. However, Isa points out that SMS is most popular for outbound use cases such as appointment reminders, shipping notifications, flight confirmations, fraud alerts, or marketing campaigns but accounts for less than 2% of inbound business interactions.

Clickatell also advises merchants to consider obfuscating personal information in communications as an additional layer of customer protection.

By showing only the last few digits of an account or card number, for example, even if the message were to be intercepted, fraudsters would never have access to all the information. What’s more, this would add to the level of customer comfort, encouraging the acceptance and use of the chat channels.

“As businesses begin to embrace Chat Commerce and develop their strategies, they will have to strike a balance between robust security, usability and adoption. The selection of a messaging app that is best suited for their needs will depend on many factors from both a business and user perspective. Security and privacy must play a key role in the decision, especially when businesses exchange sensitive and personal information,” Isa advises.

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Fintech

GlobalData Predicts Future Fintech Unicorns

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Whether to enhance the efficiency in the usage of financial services provided by existing financial companies or to increase customer retention through speed and convenience, startups are transforming the financial services and allied sectors by tech driven solutions. Against this backdrop, the Unicorn Prediction Model of GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, has released a list of 50 fintech startups that have the potential to become unicorns (valuation > US$1bn).

Apoorva Bajaj, Practice Head of Financial Markets at GlobalData, says: “Ranging from digital payments to insurtech, from mobile banking to cross-border payments, startups aim to disrupt finance using modern technologies and innovative business models to attract various new-age consumers. The COVID-19 has certainly provided tailwinds to the industry, as more consumers turned to fintech solutions to manage their finances. New opportunities keep emerging in the fintech sector across the globe, which bodes well for the startups working in the space.”

GlobalData’s latest report ‘Future Unicorns in Fintech, reveals that in Q3 2021, the fintech industry reported investment in excess of US$27.2bn spanning 650 deals globally. During the period, North America (primarily the US) accounted for nearly 40% of overall venture capital (VC) deal volume, followed by APAC with almost one-fourth of total investments.

When it comes to social media discussions, ‘fintech’ and its use cases in banking-as-a-service, insurtech and digital payments are increasingly being mentioned by social media influencers. Key mentions on social media include Klarna launching ‘Pay Now’ option in US, Mastercard offering SMEs digital cash-flow solutions via strategic partnerships and Russian food retailer launching X5 Bank to offer financial services.

Some of the fintech startups in GlobalData’s list of potential unicorns include Boost Insurance, Open, XTransfer, Moneytree and Ocrolus.

Boost offers an API-driven infrastructure-as-a-service platform for property and casualty insurers, which reduces the cost of building and managing an insurance company by packaging the necessary operational, compliance, and capital components and making them accessible.

Open is Asia’s first neo-banking platform for SMEs and startups that develops and offers an online platform for banking and intercompany settlement. It offers services ranging from deposit accounts, money transfers, debit cards for online/offline purchases, expense management, to invoice management. It currently serves more than 15,00,000 SMEs and processes US$24bn in transactions annually.

XTransfer is a one-stop cross-border platform offering financial and risk control services for foreign trade enterprises, dedicated to helping SMEs to greatly reduce the threshold and cost of global exhibition industry and improve global competitiveness.

Moneytree is a financial data aggregation platform offering personal financial management solution, an expense tracking tool for small businesses, and a customer database software for financial enterprises. It aims to bring people and institutions closer together, help them find balance and discover new opportunities to grow personal wealth.

Ocrolus is a document automation platform powering digital lending ecosystem, automating credit decisions across banking, fintech, and mortgage.

Bajaj concludes: “The adoption of ‘fintech’ is increasing as is evident by latest tech innovations in the banking, financial services and insurance sector, massive surge of digital-only banks, increase in number of related mentions in corporate filings and continued increase in jobs posted to hire talent in this space. With all the emerging trends in fintech, it will be interesting to see how future shapes up for companies investing in digital transformation of the traditional banking, investment and insurance services.”

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Technology

First Commercial Mobile Internet/telecoms System Powered by Balloons to Launch in Africa

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World Mobile is launching its unique hybrid mobile network supported by low altitude platform balloons in Zanzibar, as it plans to roll-out its innovative service providing reliable mobile internet to more people at lower cost throughout the African continent.

World Mobile’s balloons will be the first to officially launch in Africa for commercial use, providing a more cost-effective way to provide digital connection to people compared to rolling out legacy internet infrastructure. The remotely controlled aerostat balloons are powered by solar panels, inflated by helium and tethered to the ground. Once airborne, they act as floating cellular base stations transmitting radio signals to ground stations and personal devices.

The project – the first since a successful $40 million raise – will deliver coverage and access to the digital economy for over 1m million people in Zanzibar by end of 2023.

It is the first step in World Mobile’s mission to help bring nearly four billion people online before 2030 in line with the UN and World Bank’s SDGs.

Data from the United Nations* shows almost half the world’s population, 3.7 billion people, the majority of them women, and most in developing countries, are still offline.

Beyond Zanzibar, World Mobile is in discussions with government officials in Tanzania and Kenya, as well as other territories underserviced by traditional mobile operators.

It plans to have 20 mesh sites – local Wi-Fi nodes – rolled out by January 2022 and 120 sites during the first six months of 2022 including the first aerostat balloon launch.

The roll out will cover approximately 75% of Unguja Island and provide access to the wider digital economy including communications, e-commerce, finance, healthcare, and education to the islands’ 896K people.

Micky Watkins, CEO of World Mobile said: “We want to help create a world where everyone can access affordable connectivity, a world where economic freedom is a truth and a world where people are able to jump on the opportunities that internet creates. Zanzibar will become the world’s first smart region powered by World Mobile, connecting businesses, schools and society as a whole.”

“Mobile internet services are becoming quite popular in Zanzibar, like everywhere else around the globe. These services bring online access to information and communication to the masses through their mobile phones, helping bridge the existing rural and urban digital gap. More crucially, however, these services are singularly responsible for promoting financial inclusion by allowing the banked and underbanked in Zanzibar to participate fully in the emerging digital economy. While these services have become indispensable, the high price of communication is a major entry barrier for the poor majority. World Mobile’s service launch of affordable internet service in Zanzibar will be a game changer allowing the vast majority of Zanzibaris to fully participate in the digital revolution.”

added Said Seif Said, Director General of Zanzibar’s E-Government Agency.

World Mobile already has agreements in place with the Zanzibarian government to provide connectivity for 300 schools, and a four-step plan is in place to unlock Zanzibar’s Blue Economy, across marine industries.

The World Mobile approach is more sustainable, in environmental, social and governance terms. Environmental impacts are mitigated using solar-powered nodes, second-life batteries, and energy-efficient technology. World Mobile creates a positive societal impact through the application its circular economy model – a “sharing economy” where locals share in the ownership and rewards of the network. Governance is maintained by the secure underlying blockchain technology, which means that user data privacy is guaranteed and not commercially applied as it is by other mobile operators.

 

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E-commerce

2021 Jumia Black Friday Ends Today

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2021 Jumia Black Friday events will be coming to an end today. The event which had started on November 5 with deals like Treasure Hunts and Flash sales among others has been of immense benefit to Nigerians. Many Nigerians took advantage of the deals to shop for items that they like.

Investors king had previously reported the excitement of Nigerians about the Jumia Black Friday and how discounts on items were as much as 52 per cent and more.

Under the Treasure Hunts deals, there are hidden discounted items of as much as 99 per cent off. Customers are supposed to find the hidden item and anyone that luckily finds it gets it. This and many other deals are all in the fulfillment of the promise of Jumia that this year’s Black Friday deals will be earth-shattering.

One among the many people that have enjoyed the earth-shattering deals is, according to Vanguard, Stephenia Gara, a caterer based in Abuja. She was reported to be one of the Treasure Hunts winners and was able to purchase an iPhone 13 for N6,850.

iPhone 13 is sold for over N800,000, but Stephenia was said to have stayed awake, specifically for the Treasure Hunt deal, and was able to get the phone for a way cheaper amount. Vanguard reported her to have said that she was going to use the phone to take clean pictures of the food that she sells.

Another lucky beneficiary of the many deals from Jumia Black Friday is Damilola Olawale. Olawale won a N200,000 voucher and a one-year free Jumia Prime Subscription. With this, Olawale can get free delivery, any time he shops on Jumia, to any location in Nigeria. He would also enjoy discounts.

Jumia over years has sustained itself as a trusted shopping place for Nigerians with such events as Black Friday and others. This year’s Black Friday is expected to end today.

 

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